January 16-20, 2023


Bill count continues; deadlines looming; MUS budget hearings; new website content

As the sun sets on Week 3 of the 68th Montana Legislature (Legislative Day 15 for those still keeping track), the MUS is midway through its HB 2 Section E Budget Subcommittee hearings; total bill draft requests number 4,572, of which 530 have been introduced; and the MUS is tracking 309 policy and budget bills, of which 42 have been introduced.

As of January 17, legislators may no longer request general bills (those without a fiscal impact) and January 24 is the deadline for revenue bill requests. The term “revenue bill” is somewhat misleading but it becomes a critical designation as the session approaches the halfway point and bills can die as a result of failure to meet deadlines. Legislative rules, in which request and introduction deadlines are established, provide that a revenue bill is any bill that has the potential to increase or decrease revenue. Revenue bills have later transmittal deadlines, and a general bill may be recategorized as a revenue bill with an amendment. Other bill categories with different deadlines include appropriation bills, resolutions, and bills proposing referenda. As the number of bills in the process grows and the action ratchets up, deadlines run the show. But all manner of procedural gymnastics have and likely will be attempted to keep certain bills alive.

House Bill 2, the General Appropriations Act, is a bill category unto itself. The MUS spent Wednesday through Friday on the fourth floor of the Capitol in the first three of six meetings with the Section E Budget Subcommittee to discuss with members components of the MUS budget and MUS programs and initiatives.

Budget Hearings

Last week’s review included a rundown of MUS’s portion of the Section E Subcommittee agenda, which had been scheduled to conclude on Tuesday, January 24. The Subcommittee chair, Rep. David Bedey, has added Wednesday, January 25, to the schedule to accommodate any follow-up items and to conduct a work session on Shared Policy Goals and Accountability Measures. The Shared Policy Goals represent years of collaboration among the MUS and the Legislative and Executive Branches to establish common objectives and measures. They reflect commitment to access and affordability, workforce and economic development, and efficiency and effectiveness. The policy goals align with the MUS Strategic Plan and facilitate constructive dialogue between the MUS and the Legislature. At various points in the hearings, Subcommittee members voiced appreciation for the joint planning process and intend to delve into the shared goals in more detail at Wednesday’s work session.

Website Additions

The Government Relations and Communications portion of OCHE’s website now includes links to the fact sheets MUS is providing to the Section E Budget Subcommittee, as well as the project descriptions prepared for the Section F Long-Range Building Subcommittee. This website continues to evolve, so check it regularly for updates and new information.

Updates and What to Watch

HB 133 – Allow nonresident college students to purchase FWP licenses online

The bill has been transmitted to the Senate and is scheduled for a hearing in Senate Fish and Game on 1/24.

HB 31 – Generally revise laws related to academic brewers license

The bill passed Third Reading in the House by a large margin and has moved to the Senate.

HB 185 - Increase appropriation to MSU Fire Service Training School

House Appropriations approved the bill 20-2 and it is scheduled for Second Reading on 1/23.

HB 5 - Major Repair and Capital Development Projects

HB 5 is scheduled for a hearing in the Section F Long-Range Building Subcommittee on 1/26.